Japanese students pray for peace at Banzai Cliff

Posted on Oct 19 2011
By Clarissa V. David

Students from Ueda Nishi High School from Nagano Prefecture in Ueda City, Japan pose for a group photo after offering prayers for peace at Banzai Cliff yesterday afternoon. (Clarissa V. David) Despite overcast skies that presaged a heavy downpour, Japanese students from Ueda Nishi High School from Nagano Prefecture in Ueda City gathered at Banzai Cliff yesterday to offer prayers for all those who perished during the war.

A total of 201 students 16 to 17 years of age, along with 19 teachers and four tour coordinators, offered prayers-both in Japanese and English-at the site where thousands of Japanese civilians jumped to their deaths at the end of the Battle of Saipan.

Student representatives also presented 1,000 origami cranes, made by the students themselves, to retired Marine Marven Avilla who served during the war. Japanese culture believes that folding paper cranes makes a person’s wish come true, in this case the wish for continued peace.

School principal Kenji Muramatsu, through interpreter Tanaka Takayuki of R&C Tours, said the students who participated in the ceremony are currently studying history, including World War II and the Battle on Saipan.

Muramatsu said the last time they were on island to hold the same memorial rite was two years ago. They have also been to Hawaii and Singapore to pray for peace.

Student leader Miyashita Masahiro, a sophomore student, said through an interpreter that this is his first visit to the island. He said he would like to know more about and continue praying for peace, sharing the knowledge he would gain to everybody when he goes back to Japan.

The group, currently staying at the Saipan World Resort and Pacific Islands Club, arrived on Saipan via Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines flights Monday afternoon.

The visiting students will meet with their counterparts from Marianas High School and join them in classes. The group will also go sightseeing and do some shopping for souvenirs and gifts to bring back to Japan.

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